Local shopping encouraged this holiday season

Published 11:56 pm Saturday, November 17, 2012

By Lucy Parker

The Daily News

The Chamber of Commerce offices in Franklinton and Bogalusa are encouraging Washington Parish residents to stick close to home when searching for gifts this Christmas season.

Nov. 24, the day after Black Friday, has been designated as Small Business Saturday — a national shopping holiday. Marilyn Bateman, executive director of the Bogalusa Chamber of Commerce, has been sending email alerts to member businesses, letting them know that the busy shopping days are fast approaching.

“We remind you to show your community support and shop locally on these two days especially,” the tagline on the attached flyers reads.

Bateman said shopping in one’s hometown creates a sense of community pride, gives friends a chance to get together and provides economic benefits.

“It does support our tax base,” she said. “Sales tax goes toward our policemen, our firemen, and especially our school system and our hardworking schoolteachers. And it saves gas. Shop at home; don’t drive to Covington or up to Columbia, Miss.”

Franklinton Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Linda Crain agreed, saying local shopping helps the town, the parish and the school system and provides funding for things like roads and bridges.

“It supports our community,” she said. “The tax money is spent in the community, and we want to make sure the people who live in this community also support our community. And most people want to do that.”

Like Bateman, Crain sent out an email announcement about the upcoming Small Business Saturday. Taking it one step further, however, the Franklinton Chamber is now in the midst of a two-week-long Shop at Home campaign.

The campaign, Crain said, started Saturday and will run through Dec. 1. At its center is the “Shop at Home Markit” promotion.

In a game that might be familiar to those who participated in Franklinton’s Sesquicentennial last year, residents can pick up an entry sheet at one of 14 participating businesses: Winn-Dixie, Auto Zone, Ideal Pharmacy, Shirts N Things, Family Furniture, Maurice Magee Furniture, Ace Hardware, Jack Brown’s Food Store, Circle T Farm Supply, H & H Gun Shop & Hunting Supply, Mike’s Flooring, Cato, Moseley’s Jewelers or Farmer and the Dell (Magee Feeds, Inc.).

To be eligible to win prizes, participants must get their entry sheet stamped or initialed at each of the businesses and then drop the completed sheet off at the last business visited. Winners’ names will be drawn at the Chamber’s Antique Car and Truck Show, to be held Saturday, Dec. 1 at the parish fairgrounds.

“We want them to go into every business, but there are 14 chances to win a prize,” Crain said.

The Franklinton Chamber board elected to expand Shop at Home to a full campaign after last year’s Shop at Home Evening, where downtown businesses stayed open late one night, was rained out, Crain said.

“Last year we wanted to do it just within walking distance so you could park and just walk from one business to another that night,” she said. “It would have been successful if hadn’t rained so much, but people couldn’t walk.

“I saw several people who would drive up in front of a store and run in, and they’d have to run back to their car. We were trying to just avoid the mistakes that we made last year with that, because you can’t count on the weather.”

Residents, Crain said, are encouraged to shop all over town during the two weeks of Shop at Home and visit each business. While parish citizens have become accustomed to doing their shopping in places like Covington or Mandeville, “there is actually a lot to buy locally if you go into the stores and see,” she said.

“We would like for people to come out and just shop locally first,” she said.